Worry is a Faith Matter – Luke 12:22-32

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing…. So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.” (Luke 12:22-23, 32, NLT).

Jesus told a parable about greed to a crowd of people (vs. 12:13-21). Then, in stark contrast to the greed story, Jesus turned to His disciples and proceeded to tell them not to worry about their daily needs for life, specifically food and clothing, because God will provide everything they need. In stark contrast t

Jesus said that ravens don’t plant or harvest crops yet they have enough food (vs. 24). He said King Solomon was never dressed as beautifully as a lily (vs. 27).

Jesus concluded that if God takes care of both the birds and flowers, how much more will He take care of human beings (vs. 28).

What’s interesting is after Jesus admonishes His disciples to quit worrying about their basic needs for life, He indicts them for a lack of faith.

Continue reading

You Are What You Wish For – Jeremiah 2:5

“Thus says the Lord: ‘What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?'” (Jeremiah 2:5, ESV).

The prophet Jeremiah was called to prophesy to the people of Jerusalem during the reign of King Josiah and until the city’s final fall to the Babylonians. Jeremiah preached Old Testament themes in a fresh way. His unique theological contribution as an Old Testament prophet was his articulation of the new covenant between God and humanity (see Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Jeremiah emphasized that God’s chosen people, Israel with whom God had made a special covenant, had forsaken Him and chosen to worship other gods. In this verse Jeremiah claimed that instead of seeking God, the Israelites were going after worthless idols.

Instead of seeking God, which was worthwhile, they tried to find spirituality in idols, which were worthless. And, by seeking after that which was worthless their lives consequently became worthless.

You are what you wish for–rather, you become what you wish for–according to Jeremiah.

Continue reading

Living Dangerously – Matthew 10:34-39

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39, ESV).

In a post-game interview Baker Mayfield, rookie quarterback for the Cleveland Browns was asked how he had led his team to an amazing victory. Mayfield responded, “I woke up feeling dangerous today!”

Following Jesus is a dangerous undertaking! It sets you at odds with the very world in which you live.

Following Jesus can set your family against you when you love Jesus more than them. Following Jesus can set your your friends and colleagues against you when it becomes a higher priority than work or hobbies.

Following Jesus can set you against the popular culture and politics of this world when His values become your values.

It makes you look suspicious… unusual… dangerous!

Continue reading

My New Year’s Resolution: Striving With God – Ecclesiastes 1:12-14

“I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:12-14, ESV).

The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is presumably written by King Solomon, king over Israel, in his old age. In this treatise Solomon proffers a philosophical perspective of life that advances the notion that much of human life on Earth is occupied with striving after what’s not really so important in life after all.

Solomon observes that it’s like spending your life chasing after the wind. And, in case his point doesn’t resonate with the reader the first time, he repeats this thought eight more times!

Striving seems to be in our DNA. It’s what we human beings do. We strive after happiness. We strive for health and long life. We strive after success. We strive for money. We strive for love and friendship. We strive over political ideologies and religious beliefs. We strive with one another for dominance and control.

Striving….it’s human nature!

Continue reading

The Great Give Away – Acts 3:6

“Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, ‘I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!’” (Acts 3:4-6, NLT).

Since it’s the Christmas season, I think this gift-giving story of a different sorts is appropriate.

One day Peter and John went to the Temple for the afternoon prayer service. There was a man who had been lame for more than forty years (vs. 4:22) laying at the Temple gate begging for money.

As Peter and John were about to enter the Temple, the man asked them for money. Peter explained that he didn’t have any money to give the man, but he would give the man what he did have, which was the gift of healing in the name of Jesus Christ.

The man was instantly and undeniably cured and he jumped up and down excitedly and praised God (vs. 8). When all the people coming to the Temple saw and heard the formerly lame beggar, they were amazed and began to gather in the Temple.

Continue reading

An Inconvenient Truth: Part 2 – Deuteronomy 17:1

“You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 17:1, ESV).

God instructed the Israelites to use the highest quality animals in their herds as sacrifices. If God didn’t designate any standards for the livestock, the Israelites would likely use the ones with blemishes or defects for sacrifices!

They would use the ones of lowest quality–the ones most convenient and practicable for them to use.

But God wanted the best livestock for sacrifices to Him, the ones that required a sacrifice on the part of the sacrificer.

Because the fidelity of the sacrifice indicates the fidelity of the sacrificer.

Continue reading

An Inconvenient Truth: Part 1 – Deuteronomy 17:1

“You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever, for that is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 17:1, ESV).

This verse may at first seem like an Old Testament commandment that has little relevance for Christians today. I would submit, however, that it is a commandment of God that has much relevance for God’s people of all generations.

Let’s start by asking why God would require the Israelites to sacrifice only oxen or sheep without any physical defects when they made a sacrifice to God. What difference did it make to God since the animal was going to be killed and cooked or burned up anyway?

While there are several theological principles you could derive from this Old Testament commandment, here’s the one I want to address:

The fidelity of the sacrifice indicates the fidelity of the sacrificer.

Continue reading